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Is May 1 too early to start reopening Ohio? Here's what health experts in Cuyahoga County are saying

Some Ohioans say that Gov. Mike DeWine's plan to begin reopening the state on May 1 is too early. But what do health officials on the frontlines think?

CLEVELAND — Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that Ohio will start the first phases of reopening the state beginning on May 1.

Although DeWine said it will be a gradual process of “rolling out one thing after another,” some are questioning if May 1 might be too early.

Is it too early? Will Cuyahoga County be prepared for May 1? Is that date in the best interest of Northeast Ohio?

Those questions were addressed Friday morning during a press conference as Cuyahoga County health officials offered coronavirus updates. Here’s what each had to say about May 1 being the target date...

Cuyahoga County Board of Health Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett: Is Cuyahoga County going to be ready for the first phase of reopening Ohio on May 1?

“I would like to remind everyone that our models are dependent on strict social distancing. What we are seeing is still new transmission happening in our community. We are committed to ensuring that we are in lockstep with our state leaders and the government level and our state health department. We continue to communicate regularly with them about what we’re seeing here in Cuyahoga County on the frontlines. We cannot let off. What we’re seeing now is often what happened two to 14 days ago, so we have to recognize that unless we stop transmission that’s still happening, we’re going to continue to need to address this in a very robust way. This is a long-term proposition for all of us. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Given the continued transmission, we need people to wear masks. We need people to socially distance. We need people to not have parties. We need people to not have gatherings. We need people to work remotely whenever possible. We will continue to work with our state leaders around what we’re seeing on the ground, but the message for our community today is that we can’t let up. We’ll continue to see what happens over the next few weeks. I’m articulating today that I still see transmission, our team still sees transmission and our team still sees people who are ill.

NOTE: You can watch all of their comments in full in the player below:

Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner Terry Allan: Is May 1 the right date?

“I think that it’s hard to set a date on these things. For me, what’s particularly important is that we understand we’re going to need to develop a lot of guidance that is around a range of ways that we interact. … We need to be creative about how we understand the safest way to conduct business. We will follow the governor’s playbook, and Dr. Acton’s playbook. It has served us well. But going forward, I there are several things I think people need to consider. One is that we expect more testing to become available here in the coming weeks and months. As we seek, we will find there will be more cases. More testing means more cases. All the numbers are tied to testing. We can only know where we test. We also have heard Dr. Fauci say that up to 50 percent of people may not have symptoms and can transmit being asymptomatic. We need to understand that. The testing is critical for us to identify potential risk and to prevent future cases. … We all have that responsibility to lead by example, to follow the guidance that will emerge as we’re creative in assuring that we reduce the risk going forward in the community – even as we begin to address the disruptions and start to address bringing society back to some sense of normalcy. But it’s about protecting the public’s health, our collective health. In that regard, all of us are public health workers in our families, in our neighborhoods and in our businesses. That’s a good thing that we recognize how critical it is to the health of all our friends and family. At the end of the day, good health is tied to the opportunity to work, be protective, give back to society and that’s the heart blood of greater Cleveland and what we do here. Follow the guidance and lead in your communities as the guidance emerges to try and reduce risk. Reducing risks reduces fatalities in the future. All of us have an interest in doing everything we can to protect the greater Clevelanders.

Follow-up question to Allan: Is May 1 in the best interest for those in Cuyahoga County?

“I don’t know what the best answer is on a date. What I do know is that May 1, there is a detailed plan based on the data and science on how to roll back incrementally with protections to try and reduce risk. I don’t know what that exact date is, but I will tell you that we continue to have great faith in the governor, Dr. Acton and their leadership. We’re going to do the best we can to assure that we continue to work here to reduce cases and the potential risk in the community. That’s how we’ve stood together, and we’ll continue to do that through this response.”

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish: Is the county prepared?

“We’ve had an internal group working to make sure that the county itself as a government will be ready when we are advised to reopen. We have seen changes in the county government, operations and throughout the business community and the general community. I think those changes will continue. It will be a different world going forward. We have learned that a lot of work can be done remotely and can be done efficiently and effectively. We will continue those efforts in the new era of post-coronavirus. We have been out there aggressively pursuing protective equipment for people, including the people in the nursing homes. We will continue to do that. Just because business and the community starts to reopen doesn’t mean we’re not going to still going to follow the advice that we’ve been preaching for weeks: Handwashing, social distancing and making sure that you wear the masks and other protective equipment. We will be in a much better position going forward than we were at the beginning of this crisis because nobody anticipated it, and unfortunately the strategic stockpile was not sufficient to provide the protective equipment people needed throughout the county. So we will be ready both internally and for the community when we are advised by the medical experts that it can be done safely.”

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What are your thoughts on May 1 being selected as the date to begin the process of restarting Ohio? Tell us your thoughts below...

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